A happy ending for the Gurkhas? Think again

From the Observer

A culture that prefers fast food to home-cooked meals and Twenty20 cricket to five-day Tests cannot endure the long haul of political struggle. Boredom sets in. Fickle eyes flick away. “Been there, done that,” we say, a crass cliche at the best of times that turns delusional when we apply it to a political world in which very few causes are done within a decade, let alone a news cycle.

For those who like their gratification instant, no story appeared more satisfying than the campaign to give Gurkha soldiers the right to settle in Britain. The plot was so pat Richard Curtis could have directed it. A legal action, initiated by London solicitors Howe & Co, to compel the government to grant residency rights to some of the 36,000 soldiers who had retired before 1997 provided the backstory. The audience joined the action in April last year, when Nick Clegg demanded that Parliament do what the judges could not. He thundered at Gordon Brown: “If someone is prepared to die for this country, surely they deserve to live in this country?” David Cameron said the same, but Brown failed to listen or understand the public mood.

Even voters who denounced immigration were on the Gurkhas‘ side, reasoning that if Britain let in people who hated it, the government should not bar those who had fought for it. In Joanna Lumley, the Gurkhas had a formidable champion. The daughter of Major James Lumley of the 6th Gurkha Rifles served her family’s regiment well by confronting Phil Woolas, Labour’s immigration minister, at the BBC. She was glamorous and filled with righteous anger. She looked down on Woolas, a careworn and equivocating politician in an ill-fitting suit, and wiped the floor with him.

Her commanding performance was too much…

Read the whole thing

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